1. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

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    Sci-Fi Setting Preliminary Troubleshooting

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Fervidor, Jun 14, 2022.

    So I've been thinking about a science fiction setting for some time. It's supposed to be a rather soft space-opera/science fantasy style, although I'm going to try not to overtly hand-wave or ignore reasonable explanations for why things work that they do. (For example, I'm not going to have space-age people fight with swords just "because it's cool.")

    Since detailed world-building isn't my strongest suit, I thought I'd list some technology I've planned to incorporate so see if I've overlooked anything that might cause trouble. (As an example, I originally wanted both teleportation and FTL travel to be done via portals that instantly bring you to your desired location, but realized that might largely invalidate space travel.)

    So, I would appreciate if you guys would look through the following list and let me know if you think of any issues I might not have considered:


    -All really advanced technology is based on psionics, defined as the technological application of psychic phenomena. Attaining psychic potential and an understanding of psionics (normally via precursor artifacts found across the galaxy) is considered a sort of rite of passage. Sapient species who have not yet achieved this can be observed but making contact is considered impertinent. (Compare warp capability and the Prime Directive in Star Trek.) Basically, psionics represent a technological paradigm shift that makes you worth talking to.

    -The keystone of psionic technology is a type of precursor technology resembling a flat piece of glass or crystal with a metal rim. They function as conduits of psionic energy but can also store extreme amounts of information, including the engramatic totality of a conscious mind. While no living species understands exactly how they work, they can be produced by construction artifacts designed to do so. They are used in weapons, communication devices, computers and many other technologies. It is suspected that they served more functions for the precursors that haven't yet been discovered.

    -Power is provided by generators producing effectively limitless clean energy. Said energy can also be easily transmitted wirelessly.

    -Spaceships traversing normal space can travel extremely fast without being affected by time dilation, inertia and other such issues: The ship itself compensates for these things.

    -Ships can also warp into a pocket dimension were normal limits of space and time don't apply, allowing them to travel to a desired location more or less immediately. The ship can not interact with normal matter at all during this transit. Powerful psychics can learn to do the same thing on their own, effectively allowing them to teleport. Doing this repeatedly over a short period of time may cause one to lose all sense of time and space, resulting in a temporary psychosis-like state. Thus, most people try to avoid using this mode of travel more often than necessary.

    -Instantaneous real-time communication can be achieved regardless of distance.

    -Artificial gravity is standard on all ships, space stations, etc. Tractor beams and levitation devices are likewise common.

    -Psionic shields have rendered kinetic and explosive weapons (including nuclear weapons) obsolete as they completely negate all damage from natural forces. Such shields can protect ships and cities, project from hand-held devices and be generated at will by psychics.

    -The most common type of armament is beam weaponry, or beamers, which fire pulsed energy beams that disintegrate matter at the point of contact and disrupt shields, eventually causing them to temporarily collapse. Beam weapons produce no recoil, but do generate vibrations that can complicate aiming. They can also overheat if fired too frequently. On the other hand, they do not require ammunition, reloading or recharging.

    -Bolt cannons function in a similar way to beam weapons but fire bolts that move much slower and explode on impact, acting as the replacement for artillery and missile weapons.

    -Wyrdblades are melee weapons with the ability to cut through psionic shields (as well as practically any form of matter) with little to no resistance. Since shields have made close combat considerably more viable than in the past, wyrdblades are fairly common in a variety of forms such as rifle-mounted bayonets, boarding cutlasses and longswords. While resembling and "energy sword", they do act as physical objects, although with some rather odd properties. While they can be wielded by anyone, they are especially emblematic of psychics, against whom even beam weapons can be unreliable. Wyrdblades are also one of the few types of psionic technology that can't be replicated by psychic power alone. (Or at least no psychic has yet to manage it.)

    -"Power armor" exists in the form of a bodysuit with artificial muscles that greatly augments the strength of the wearer. Armor plating is then attached on top of it, made from an alloy that partially resists disruption beams and similar weaponry. Even without the armor, the augmentation suit is popular among explorers, adventurers and other people of various trades, who commonly wear them under regular clothes like robes or tunics. They can double as space suits, worn with backpack-like "rigs" equipped with an oxygen supply, collars that deploy helmets, and either thrusters or bionic wings for maneuvering.

    -The galaxy is littered with abandoned precursor ruins and derelict space habitats. While much of their technology can no longer be activated or reverse engineered, most societies share a fascination with (or in some cases religious reverence) for them. Because of this a subculture of adventurers, explorers and xenoarcheologists are devoted to exploring precursor structures and finding new ones, hoping to discover unusual artifacts.


    That's all I can think of for now. I tried to stick to technology, rather than the various aliens or where psychic powers come from, since otherwise I'd end up describing the entire setting in way too much detail.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2022
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  2. evild4ve

    evild4ve Senior Member

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    These are sci-fi elements, so I'd suggest any justifications they require aren't technical-scientific so much as (i) plot-structural (ii) literary.

    Instantaneous communication in stories is so old (in literature) that it's artistic license now - .: probably doesn't need mentioning. Someone who was bothered by Captain Kirk receiving faster-than-light messages from Earth (on his analogue screen) wouldn't tune in in the first place.

    But a 'wyrdblade' being able to cut through psionic shields is a detail that I'd suggest requires plot-structural justification. If there is an action scene where (for example) the hero would have duffed up the baddy but good - except that the baddy had a wyrdblade and so instead he has to run back to his locker to get his other shield - then sure, that's a useful detail. Otherwise, it's just weighing on the reader's patience. The story of how some unstoppable forces collide with some immovable objects isn't a story. A lot of the art in speculative fiction writing is avoiding introducing devices like this - could there be a natural reason why he goes back to his locker?

    It's sometimes contended that there's art in describing how unreal technologies work - and we might want to write about this for its own sake. I say: "Yes, but that's not novel-writing." It's for those gift books about how to maintain an X-Wing or whatever.
    Sci-fi and fantasy, I believe, is character-writing and uses these elements to reveal characters in ways that would be impossible in the real world. (e.g. Asimov's 'Nightfall' and the way we forget our need for an ordered/regular/familiar natural world around us - to show this he asks us to imagine a civilization experiencing night for the first time due to its unusual solar system layout. The astronomy lecture is tedious, but there's a pay-off.)

    What I've called literary-justification is really the same thing as plot-structural justification - except that it's linking to structures outside the work rather than inside (I think good work does both). I'd suggest to look at two things from this list: psionics and power armour.
    Psionics became a regular feature of science fantasy stories largely in response to popoular-paranormal interest in psychics in the 1960s. Are society's desires to do the impossible still centred on that 60-year-old locus, or have the symbols and expectations for the paranormal changed since then?

    Power-armour has the same problem as swords-in-space. But I'd suggest it becomes popular because of sci-fi wargaming post 1966 and the value to sculptors of being able to tick "knights-in-armour" boxes at the same time as the "astronaut" ones. "Power armour" is no more useful to us, verbally and as writers, than plain old "armour" - but to a sculptor it's gold. It might be contended that "this is completely different from Warhammer power armour" e.g. because it has muscles - but that has no register with a reader: in fiction nothing looks like anything. When we use the words "power armour" we carry over certain associations automatically: and our craft is to control that.

    All the OP's sci-fi elements have intertexts - and I think they're dated ones - whether it's Dune, or Star Wars, or Warhammer, or Star Trek - or that New Age idea (Ziggy Stardust, E.T., Douglas Adams) that primitive planets should be left alone until they catch up.
    Something I believe is important is to imitate previous authors' creativity, rather than the particular sci-fi elements that came out of it.
    e.g. "Warp Speed" was ingenious in 1966 because it captured the zeitgeist of the space race, it grounded the writers in an older tradition of seafaring novels - and ultimately it becomes a phrase added to the language. In 2022 it's just another Star Trek reference.

    I suppose the OP might have wanted more comparison of the devices with each other - e.g. "you can't have beam weapons in the same world as wyrdblades because x,y,z" - but we're incredibly lucky if anyone reads our stuff at all, let alone them paying enough attention to spot discrepancies.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2022
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  3. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Contributor Contributor

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    I'm going to raise questions just for the hell of it, but I'm being hypercritical. You don't necessarily have to address these at all in your story.

    If there are many different shapes of wyrdblade (even adapted to bayonets), how hard would it be to make missiles or bullet tips out of that material?

    Are there wyrdblade sheathes or do they 'turn off'? How do you keep them from cutting off your dong during day-to-day transit?

    Does a psychic need to be conscious to maintain a shield? Can the human eye, or sensors, detect a shield? What stops him from using this as a weapon? You know, make a shield between Jeff's brain hemispheres. Does the shield denature matter trying to pierce it, or merely halt it? Can shields be made within shields? What would stop a nefarious psychic from making his own shield right outside of an enemy city's shield?

    Can a psychic block communications?

    If a ship can be teleported to wherever you want, can't I just teleport a ship onto the surface of a planet either within the shield range or within a city/enemy ship itself (suicidal attack)?
     
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  4. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

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    I don't necessarily disagree, but I was under the impression that speculating on how science and technology might affect society was pretty much the point of science fiction.

    I don't think I understand this locker analogy. What do you mean by "his other shield"? That wouldn't work since wyrdblades are specifically anti-shield weapons: He'd need to either counter with his own blade or get distance on the guy and try to shoot him.

    That's the whole point: I set it up this way to make melee combat a viable option.

    I'm aware, and frankly I care more for storytelling than for world-building. Just, that wasn't the intended topic of this thread. I understand that you mean well, but I fear we are trying to discuss different things here.

    I certainly wouldn't say the trope has fallen out of favor. But regardless I'm not really concerned about that.

    More to the point, psionics in this setting is the technology that changes how society works. I've seen a lot of psychics in sci-fi but I've never seen psionics as the basis of an entire technological Renaissance. That was the idea I wanted to explore.

    Well, actually WH40K power armor also uses the armor plating on artificial muscles model. I honestly didn't know that when I came up with my version - I just figured it was the most practical way to do it. Oh well.

    I prefer to think of them as "classic."

    Ah, but does that mean we shouldn't use those elements, even if we really like them? Isn't a big part of creativity the desire to create more of something you love?

    Look, I am aware that most of this is derivative. I just don't see that as a flaw or limitation, rather it's my way of expressing my passion for all the stories that inspired me to write in the first place. I don't like creating by subtraction - I want to pour everything I enjoy into the story, then distill and re-contextualize it.

    If what I write ends up pushing the boundaries of literature, that's great. But all I really want to do is entertain people and pass the inspiration along to others like me.

    Not exactly. More like: "If you have that technology, you should be able to use it to do this, which would have such and such consequences." Pretty much what Not the Territory did in his reply.

    Now that's just being pessimistic. :p

    No, no. I asked for it.

    Bullets? Not possible. The tech is entirely built around those coin-sized artifacts and can't be miniaturized to that degree.

    Wyrdblade-tipped missiles could possibly work, but I'd say it's not practical enough to justify mass production compared to the sheer volume of firepower you can get with standard energy weapons, which do wear shields down and would be far cheaper in the long run.

    They switch off, lightsaber style. Most likely they have safety mechanism of some kind just like firearms. Normally they're carried in holsters with the pommel pointing down, like how you'd wear a flashlight on your belt. (So if it did somehow go off by accident, you'd be more likely to lose your arm.)

    I'd say they'd have to be conscious to do anything, really.

    Sensors, yes. At least I can't think of a reason they couldn't or shouldn't have that tech.

    As for the human eye, well, I've been thinking about them sorta like Star Trek shields or the ones from Independence Day, so invisible unless struck by something. However, if they resist any natural force in our universe, that would include light and radiation. That could be very useful, but if they reflect all light they would be very, very bright and very, very visible. Plus I guess you wouldn't be able to see outside of them.

    Also, I'd want the shields to be permeable to air so the characters don't constantly risk asphyxiation, but also be airtight when they need to protect against say a vacuum or toxic gas.

    So I'm going to say that the shields have variable setting depending on what you want to let through them, and they can be visible provided you want people to see it.

    Well, for starters, it would be easier to simply crush Jeff's head with telekinesis.

    That aside, shields aren't weapons. By that I mean that on an abstract, conceptual level a shield would be defined as "something that protects (shields) you." This is important because it ties into how psychic powers work: The psychic essentially manifests an idea into reality and the purity of that idea determines how powerful the effect is.

    At the very least, the psychic has to think "I want to protect myself from harm" on an intuitive level. Deliberately weaponizing the shield would thus contradict its inherent nature. (Turns out, offense is not the best defense. Defense is the best defense.)

    The latter. It's basically like an indestructible wall.

    Yes, but only from the inside. Likewise, you can put a shield over another shield if you are outside of the first one. They can't bypass each other, however.

    I'm not sure what the point of that would be. If you're asking if Jeff the evil psychic can use his shield to make a hole in the city shield, then no, that wouldn't work.

    Good question. Theoretically, maybe, but very difficult in practice? I dunno, depends on what exactly you mean.

    Also a good question.

    I'm going to say the hyperwarp thing can't pass through shields since that's just a recipe for converting ships into relativistic interplanetary missiles that make shield technology useless, and I can't have that. It's pretty much the same reason I decided it ignores physical matter. Ever since I saw The Last Jedi I've been wondering why people in Star Wars don't just turn droid-ships into fleet-wrecking hyperspace missiles. This kind of oversight is precisely why I posted this thread.

    Ramming into a planet with normal engines should be viable, though, and it probably wouldn't even kill you if your shields are up. (Spaceship crashes in this setting are very survivable.) But if the goal is to destroy and unshielded population center, I guess that might work the first time Jeff the terrorist had that idea, but after that you'd probably be detected and then shot down or interceded somehow.

    Oh, and I forgot to mention something: Doing the hyperwarp teleportation thing too frequently over a certain period of time can mess with your perception of time and space, resulting in what is effectively a psychotic episode. So, people try not to do it more than necessary. I should edit that into the OP.

    Other than that, I suppose going out of hyperwarp close to a planet or habitat might be illegal or dangerous or both. Perhaps there are some sort of beacons your ship homes in on to make navigation easier, and trying to go past one is asking for trouble. Frankly I would prefer if you have to fly a couple of lightseconds rather than just materializing within a planet's atmosphere.

    Finally, I'd like to avoid telefragging, so there should probably be some kind of safety feature that prevents you from appearing inside stuff. Going to have to think about that.
     
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  5. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    You use the phrase pocket dimension but you described it more like hyperspace.

    A “pocket dimension” the way most sci-fi needs understand it is just an no Euclidean thing that’s bigger on the inside than it is in the outside.

    You’re talking about hyperspace, which is exactly what it sounds like. One dimension up from normal space, and perpendicular to it.

    A hyperspace navigation system would be the technology for both your spaceships and teleportation.

    The thing about teleportation technology is that it that it breaks battles. You don’t need to fire artillery or beam weapons from ship to ship if you can simply teleport a kilogram of anti hydrogen onto their ship. You can’t have big battlefields on the ground because a military with teleportation tech could simply open a portal up in the sky and literally teleport a mountain on top of the enemy army.

    Also, not sure why any of your tech should overheat. With the ability to manipulate and move matter around like that, creating a rediculously powerful heat sink should be child’s play.
     
  6. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Contributor Contributor

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    My immediate thought went to an occlusive, toxic material. Turn off the lights and air down there. But again... that's stretching the reader's imagination. And just bombarding it with those beams is probably more realistic anyway.

    I'm more thinking of Jeff placing a shield immediately around the city's shield. I assume the shields are let down to allow ships through, unless the ships teleport from within the shields. If no vehicles ever need to pass, then fine, but if they can be adapted to keep even air out, what's to stop Jeff from choking a city with his own outer 'shield'?


    The other problem is unless the whole planet is shielded, nukes (or accelerated tungsten rods—space bullets) are definitely still going to ruin people's day. That shit can upend atmospheres, disrupting air, water, flora/fauna, temperature balance. This is very common thing that goes unaddressed in sci fi, though, so probably not a big deal.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2022
  7. evild4ve

    evild4ve Senior Member

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    It's up to writers to define our own concepts of genre. I'm suggesting that since it's a novel - a written artform - it's going to involve intertexts (I mean for the words to link to each other inside the work; and to the surrounding literature outside the work) - and to look at this before scientific truthfulness just because that's a higher-level objective or theme the OP is adopting. Mary Shelley writes a novel - tells a story - first, and powerfully explores humanity's relationship with technology second. Some of the things on the OP's list (it seems to me) present structural challenges to telling a story at all.

    The traditional distinction between science fiction and science fantasy seems like it might be useful to the OP.
    E.g. 'Frankenstein' (1818) predates the distinction - but it's usually credited with predicting or setting the conventions for science fiction - because it's about real science: both contemporary to Shelley (the discovery that muscles are controlled by electricity, and the resulting Cartesian angst) and eternally/in abstract for us now.
    Shelley doesn't have a seance. It's not 'hard sci fi', but she doesn't wheel out her generation's psychics and serve up a science fantasy novel.

    Here it seems right to return to the OP's first point. Yes it's how science and technology might affect society - but psionics aren't science. They're magic.
    In science fantasy we can do that - absolutely. But then we no longer have to worry about the artistic objective of speculating on science's effects on society - science fantasy stories have to be dramatic and sweeping, and their science is best left unmentioned.

    Science is never going to be concerned with whether a psychic needs to choose different power tools from the rest of us when they put up a shelf. I fear what we have in the OP is an application of science fiction approaches and headspace to science fantasy.
    Even if we allow that both sub-genres are hazily-defined with lots of grey area, there's been a foot placed firmly in both camps. It's like worrying what powers to give our vampires. It's wanting our fantasies to be taken seriously - readers never will - it's our characters they must take seriously.

    I would say it depends if we want to call the created thing 'new' and a novel.
     
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  8. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Contributor Contributor

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    I agree that these psionics are leaning towards magic, but we should seek internal consistency either way, shouldn't we? Without that, verisimilitude is at great risk. Even stories with mystical (rather than consistent, measurable) magic tend to have some kind of explanation for why so-and-so couldn't just use another fireball and end the book five chapters early.

    I think that's what OP is looking for. His magic psionic powers as are consistent enough to warrant at least some degree of speculation from him and the audience.

    Lastly, does that mean you see the Foundation series by Asimov as science fantasy? There's hardly scientific backing for the Mule. I always took it as sci fi overall, though.
     
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  9. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

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    Well, thing is, I'm throwing these terms around without much care because none of this is set in stone. I settled on this mode of FTL travel literally two days ago and I haven't quite decided how it's supposed to work just yet. For example, does the ship/psychic create this timeless dimension or does it already exist naturally? These are things I'm still figuring out, so I'm just trying to get the basic basic gist across.

    Right, though I don't think navigation is strictly necessary. A ship should be able to just pick a certain destination without knowing if there's anything there, and psychics should be able to teleport to any location as long as they know where it is.

    That's why I decided it can't penetrate shields. And without shields, it's easier and cheaper to destroy the ship with guns.

    Unless there's technology to prevent that, like hyperspace jamming or weapons that can destroy the target before it hits. Also it wouldn't actually kill anyone protected by a shield. And, well...

    [​IMG]

    ...it may make you rather unpopular, even if it works.

    Oh, that was just something I tossed in there to put some kind of limit on what I recognize to be fairly overpowered ray guns that can destroy any known matter and never runs out of power. I can easily get rid of it, if you really think that's for the better.

    Hey, it's not like I want the psychics to be completely invincible - I'm totally okay with sneaky tactics for countering them. It's just not supposed to be easy.

    Nukes and mass-based projectiles can probably be disintegrated by energy weapons. That aside, I image there are treaties established, similar to the nuclear and biological weapons convention agreements we have today, forbidding unnecessary ecological damage to a planet. Actually, more than one powerful and scary alien faction would be against that sort of thing on ideological grounds alone, plus nobody likes having the crust of their planet cracked open.

    Not that I'm against the idea of planetary-wide shielding, but in a properly civilized galaxy it seems like overkill for that to be common.

    Why do you keep referring to me in the third person even when directly addressing me?

    Remind me, didn't Arthur C. Clarke once say something about that?

    First of all: Hold on. You said that: "It's up to writers to define our own concepts of genre." But here you also say that fantasy genres like science fiction, fantasy and science fantasy "have to be" a certain way.

    Now, I'd ask which one it is, but the truth is that you're incorrect either way: Genre is not something definitive nor is it a subjective thing we get to define on our own. Rather it's a form of categorization that changes to fit different trends and expressions of literature as they emerge, regardless of what the creator intended.

    You mentioned Mary Shelley, which is a great example. Whether or not it is accurate to call Frankenstein the first science fiction novel, that is effectively the same as asserting that Mary Shelley created science fiction. Except she didn't mean to do that, did she? You said yourself, she told her story first. The genre definition was applied to it afterwards.

    That's how genres and sub-genres work: We invent these new categories whenever a writer comes up with a story that just won't fit neatly into any previous category. In other words, we - the writers - just have to concern ourselves with writing stories and we don't really even need to care about genre. Deciding how to classify our stories are up to people in the future. After all, they are the ones who'll need to navigate the libraries and book store sections or whatever venue future people peruse to find books to read.

    So, if you're telling me that I either have to write strictly by the norms of a given genre or create a whole new revolutionary genre with every story I write, then I have to say you are being rather unreasonable.

    Secondly: Even ignoring all that, how exactly is a story concerning the reaction of society to a scientific breakthrough and/or highly advanced technology any different from a story concerning society's reaction to a newly discovered field of science that, as far as that society is concerned, might as well be magic?

    No need to put a fine point on it: It is magic. More to the point, how do you even have psionics in a science fiction setting without making it magic?

    Take telekinesis. That's the ability to move things with your mind. In other words you are applying mechanical force on an object without physical interaction, which shouldn't be possible under our current understanding of physics. Even if that can somehow be done, where exactly is all the energy required to do so coming from, and why haven't we been able to detect it by now? Also, how is this phenomenon generated solely by the human mind? Because the brain has evolved to perform very specific task, and "making things levitate" does not appear to be one of them.

    But that doesn't change the fact that if we were to discover that "magic" is in fact completely real, then science would just have to roll with that. Science isn't biased: If something turns out to be possible, then it's possible. The universe doesn't give a damn that you don't understand why.

    Heck, I expect that much even when I'm writing fantasy.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2022
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  10. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Contributor Contributor

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    Their insides could instead slowly disintegrate with use, requiring time-consuming barrel/mechanism changes after some range of shots. Maybe the rate of deterioration is a little unpredictable, you know, for dramatic tension.
     
  11. evild4ve

    evild4ve Senior Member

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    Iirc the Mule was the baddy in Second Foundation? A mutant mind-reader who
    was statistically predictable due to the population size
    . By that point I suspect Asimov was rolling in so much cash that (in context of the Foundation "Saga", if not in general) his art became a secondary consideration

    Some readers put up with the Mule while we waited for the series to do something else as good as psychohistory. Others were just very undiscerning - including the bookshops and the publishers, who lumped anything with a spaceship in it on the shelf next to Ray Bradbury

    Two reasons:- it reminds readers coming to the thread that the reply is a response to the Original Post (rather than a random bunfight); and the second person is starting to be considered aggressive. I always do the same - at least I do when I'm remembering to be courteous.

    You misrepresent me on two points: 1. that I've said science fiction and science fantasy have to be a certain way (when what I said is that the traditional distinction might be useful to you). 2. that I've called Mary Shelley the first science fiction novel (which is neither here nor there - it's just good in these threads to refer out to well-known writers, if not for the OP then for the other readers coming in. Shelley had psychics in her day - when they were less thoroughly debunked - but she locates her contact between the realms of the living and the dead in the laboratory, and I think that does inform the development of the genre).

    And the other distinction - between genre fiction and literary fiction - it might be very unreasonable, but I would contend that it's not me doing that, it's the blasted book-buying public
    The difference between science fiction and er. 'magic fiction' (if you will?) I suggest would be along the lines that the former is reader-relatable because it's grounded in ideas they are familiar with and trust. If they don't enjoy the characters (and Asimov's are bloody thin), it teaches them something as well. Learning about how pretend fireballs work is a less useful experience - it can be done, just as abstract visual art can - but then it's about how the words flow and touch the reader's emotions, rather than the (not-)science. Any and all discrepancies can be filed under artistic license - like the slow-moving laser bolts from Star Wars - it's a non-issue
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2022
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  12. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Contributor Contributor

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    Fair. I just wanted to know where you stood on that. All the power to you and your standards for sci fi, but frankly that's beyond me.

    A long time ago I cared about the distinction between sci fi and sci 'fa.' I even corrected someone about Star Wars... cringe. As I got older, though, I decided to only worry about the difference as much as Indigo/Amazon does.

    I thought the Mule was extremely interesting and enriched the story, rather than being a sign of art becoming a secondary consideration for Asimov. I'm just easy to please.
     
  13. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Because he's addressing the whole forum and the totality of the thread. The OP could be one of many voices on many pages.
     
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  14. GeoffFromBykerGrove

    GeoffFromBykerGrove Active Member

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    "The Crossing" Cormac McCarthy, “Reality+” by David Chalmers
    I know you’ve got a lot to discuss here but one bit stuck out to me:

    “The psychic essentially manifests an idea into reality and the purity of that idea determines how powerful the effect is.

    At the very least, the psychic has to think "I want to protect myself from harm" on an intuitive level. Deliberately weaponizing the shield would thus contradict its inherent nature. (Turns out, offense is not the best defense. Defense is the best defense.)”

    This all depends on how you think your psionics works. Partly it looks like you’re bringing semantics into the whole (meta)physics of your universe. It’s really hard for me at this stage to know what a pure idea is. I know what a gut reaction or instinct is, but once you go into cognition then it changes. So the word shield or defence doesn’t mean weapon or offence, but I could block with a weapon or attack with a shield. If it’s a sort of pure gut response then it’s true that I might not will putting a shield between someone’s hemispheres, but then I wouldn’t be willing to have a shield anyway. I’d be willing to attack on a non-cognitive level.

    This sounds like being picky, but I think I need to know what this “pure idea” means. If it’s based around concepts, then you’re restricting your psionics to contradictions in language and ideas that I don’t think it needs to be. If you are looking more at brute instinct, then the contradiction doesn’t exist. I just want to block a bullet or bust a guys head. Am I making sense?

    It may well be because of my limitations in sci-fi terminology. However, I’m in the middle of marking philosophy exams so saying “be clear about your terms” is in my head. This time saying it isn’t depressing.
     
  15. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

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    Well, yeah, I just figured that would already be inferred from the context, what with this being a public forum and all. Obviously everything we post here is open for public consideration, that's a given.

    Still feels sorta weird to be referred to as "the OP", you know?

    I dunno, this just seems like the overheating thing but more severe. I don't quite see how it would be more useful to me as a device for limiting firepower.

    No, it's fine. Don't apologize for asking legitimate questions.

    So, you study philosophy? Then I'm guessing you are familiar with Plato's theory of forms. That's pretty much what I based this whole thing on: Psychics draw power from a higher plane of reality that is - more or less - the platonic "Realm of Forms." Not necessarily in a literal sense, it may be more of an analogy or implication, but I trust you get what I mean. Anyway, the resulting psychic phenomena depend on the "Form" the psychic is trying to manifest and how close to "Truth" they can manage to make it.

    For example, the wyrdblades I mentioned are actually three-dimensional projections of the Form representing "blade" or "cutting edge." Naturally they are not perfect since the perfect blade can't exist in our universe, but they're about as close as you can possibly get. The same applies to psionic shields but to a lesser extent - wyrdblades are closer to their Form than shields are, which is why they cut through them.

    And before you ask: The only reason it works that way is because I came up with the swords first, then needed a way to justify them in a setting full of laser guns. So, I added shields that offer varying degrees of protection against most types of attack but are useless against the blades. The blades, meanwhile, are at a clear disadvantage against beam weapons at range, meaning you would need a shield to get close enough. So, it's sort of a rock-paper-scissor kind of thing. Hence why wyrdblades are exclusively psionic technology: Psychics simply can't grasp the concept well enough to fully replicate it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2022
    GeoffFromBykerGrove likes this.
  16. GeoffFromBykerGrove

    GeoffFromBykerGrove Active Member

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    Yep, I teach philosophy. Putting it into Platonic terms actually makes it clearer for me. How perverse is that?

    Nice idea. Cool use of an old idea.
     
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  17. MartinM

    MartinM Active Member

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    @Fervidor

    Thought I might add to the OP. Instant communication across vast distances. In the not too distance future two CPU chips are manufactured simultaneously using the descendant of CERN. Here pairs of particles are generated, interact and share spatial proximity in a quantum state. Separated one on each CPU.

    This basic entanglement means when one is positively charged the other would immediately switch to a negative charge. It is irrelevant of the distance between the two particles, they share a Quantum entanglement outside of space time.

    Two basic computers are built around the CPUs. Now when an input is keyed in to one computer, the other computer will instantly know what that input was. Here instant messaging and data transfer can occur between the two units. Place one at home and the other on a spaceship and bingo.

    Quantum entanglement - Wikipedia

    Tachyon - Wikipedia

    Hope this gives you an idea. Will probably add some more stuff later depending on which side of that bottle of red I reach.

    MartinM.
     
  18. MartinM

    MartinM Active Member

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    @Fervidor

    You mention some physic development and I agree with this as we evolve. Take a look at this Isaac Arthur video and the series it comes in. The video gets interesting around the 6.40 mark. The Axon and the Myelin sheath shows how something like this makes your sci-fi concept realistic.

    Transhumanism and Immortality - YouTube

    Something like this development could lead the brain to reading other nearby brains via there magnetic fields, or ESP. The idea also that time slows down for anybody with this augmentation seems both good and bad. You’d want the ability temporally rather than full time.

    This makes sense of identical twins knowing what each other are thinking. The countless abduction stories telling the greys used telepathy. It makes sense sending thoughts of calm and relaxation rather than actual words etc.

    With this type of development your characters would use technology in unimaginable ways. Using the mind to travel rather than the body, like astral projection who knows…

    Just a thought.

    MartinM.
     
  19. KiraAnn

    KiraAnn Active Member

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    Congratulations Fervidor - you're an "OP" !! :D

    Re: the disappearance of "psionics", it's just changed names and is called "the Force".
     

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